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Home Secretary George Bahr to NOW: New government will support Lebanese Academy of Sciences.

Home Secretary of the Lebanese Academy of Sciences Professor George Bahr exclusively told NOW Lebanon on Friday that the academy "had discussed with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora three projects to be launched in October 2009 for science and encouragement of the scientific approach in Lebanon."

During an interview with NOW Lebanon, at his office in Balamand University, Bahr said that "we still have to decide which project would be given priority. I think the Lebanese government will decide very soon on which one of them to start with and will propose its plan and advice on it."

He said that the nature of these projects was "related to teaching science in Lebanon, higher scientific education and if there should be doctorate programs for science in Lebanon."

Bahr said that the academy, though officially established in August 2007, would be formally launched during a large symposium in October 2009.

The symposium, he added, would be titled, "The Lebanese Academy of Sciences' Symposium on the Sciences in Lebanon: present challenges and future directions."

He said that the academy would invite university presidents, deans, science professors, researchers, educators and policy makers from Lebanon’s scientific institutions to the symposium.

The symposium was first announced during a speech delivered by the chairman of the academy, Professor Edgar Choueiri at the Princeton Club of New York during a dinner hosted by the Friends of the Lebanese Academy of Sciences last Friday.

Friends of the Lebanese Academy for Sciences society was registered as a non-governmental organization in the US last week.

During the dinner, Choueiri, also known as the “Einstein of Lebanon”, said that "over the years and all over the world … almost every field of science has had truly outstanding scientists who were Lebanese expatriates or of Lebanese origin. Many of them are recognized as superstars in their respective fields."

Yet, he said, Lebanon did not "greatly benefit from its most valuable export to the world that has benefited many nations, but has remained untapped and unleveraged for the service of the country from which it originated.”

Establishing the LAS set the stage for a world-class scientific culture in Lebanon, and aimed at pushing the LAS to play a central role in Lebanon's scientific life, similar to that played by national academies of sciences in many countries, he added.

However, to achieve these goals, Professor Bahr told NOW, “there are things to be done by the government, universities and the scientists themselves for the promotion of science and research in Lebanon.”

Asked by NOW if a change in politics would affect the projects, Bahr said that "we are independent but we have the support of the government. Whichever government comes about[after the coming elections] has to support the academy irrespective if it is this faction or that faction. This not our job. We don’t interfere in politics. That is why it is registered as a nongovernmental organization."

“Irrespective of who becomes the Prime Minister it falls in his interest to support the academy, because every PM will realize what is good for the country. And whenever the government would need the opinion of scientific experts on energy, the environment or health etc.… they will have a group of top expertise…who are ready to give them independent, free and objective advice.

“This is the aim of the Academy in France and this would be the aim of the Academy in Beirut," Bahr concluded.

Bahr is currently a professor of Immunology and Virology at the University of Balamand’s Faculty of Medicine. He received a bachelor and a master of Sciences from the American University of Beirut, a Ph.D from the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London University, and was a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in London.

-NOW Staff

  • elias

    I'm pretty sure it's Not Called the "The Lebanese Academy of Sciences"; Given Lebanon's profound Francophone Identity, the Official name of the Academy is: "Académie des Sciences du Liban"; The ASL (Abreviated) was shepherded by the French Academy of Sciences.

    April 3, 2009